A vasectomy is considered a permanent method of birth control by preventing the release of sperm when a man ejaculates. During a vasectomy, the vas deferens from each testicle is clamped, cut or otherwise sealed, which is the mechanism to prevent the flow of sperm. Vasectomy is easily performed in a doctor’s office under local anesthesia and requires less than 15 minutes by an experienced urologist.
According to the American Urological Association (AUA), vasectomy is the most common non-diagnostic operation performed by urologists in the United States. Estimates of the number of vasectomies performed annually in the U.S. vary depending on survey type. Data from the National Study of Family Growth in which only married couples were polled indicate a range from 175,000 to 354,000 annually.
World Vasectomy Day
Filmmaker and media activist Jonathan Stack has teamed up with urologist Dr. Doug Stein to create World Vasectomy Day. This commemoration is to encourage men to take responsibility for family planning and to transform this positive choice into a global movement. The event first took place in 2013 when Stack and Stein set out to inspire 100 doctors in 25 countries to do 1,000 vasectomies. They achieved the goal within 24 hours. The following year, over 400 physicians in 30 countries, including the U.S, Australia, India, Kenya, China and Colombia, performed almost 3,000 vasectomies, making it the largest male-focused family planning event in history.
According to Stack, “Sadly, while men waffle on the sidelines, more than 300 million women have had tubal ligations. That’s six times the number of men having vasectomies, even though tubal ligations are more invasive, costly and risky. While both procedures are almost equally effective, tubal failures can result in ectopic pregnancies, a leading cause of maternal mortality.”
States the AUA, “Given that vasectomy and tubal ligation have equivalent contraceptive effectiveness and that vasectomy enjoys advantages compared to tubal sterilization of lower cost, less pain, greater safety and faster recovery, vasectomy should be considered for permanent contraception much more frequently than is the current practice in the United States and most nations of the world.”
Performing a vasectomy is not only a quick procedure; it’s a safe one. Yet many men and women worry about the surgery for a variety of unfounded reasons. Let’s clear the air:
There are actually two ways to perform a vasectomy, including a no-scalpel vasectomy. That said, both vasectomy procedures can be performed safely and effectively, carrying very little risk.
The healing process generally requires one to two days to recover from the procedure. The most common symptoms after a vasectomy include swelling and soreness, but it’s rare for either to last. Usually over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen and cold compresses, take away most pain or discomfort.
When a man has a vasectomy, it’s a common misconception to think that he stops producing sperm. However, after a vasectomy, it’s the sperm’s ability to be released that’s blocked off, not the ability to produce sperm.
A common myth about vasectomy is that it causes impotence, the inability to get an erection and keep an erection in order to engage in sexual activity. However, a vasectomy does not cause impotence. Some erroneously believe impotence occurs by preventing sperm from being released during ejaculation. Actually, sperm make up such a small portion of ejaculate and that the difference is not even visible. The sperm that’s still produced, even after a vasectomy, is usually successfully absorbed into the body, causing no difference or repercussions.
Aside from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that you should always be aware of and protect against, there’s no increased risk of disease from having a vasectomy. And this procedure does not put you at risk of developing cancer, specifically prostate and testicular cancer, as some believe.
On November 16, 2018, World Vasectomy Day held a live-streamed event in New York City, including informative interviews with experts and participants. More information can be found here.
To quote the event organizers, “A great man doesn’t run from risk; he shares responsibility with his partner.”